About this site…Stephen Hunter is a Pulitzer-prize winning movie reviewer in Baltimore and Washington, DC. For several decades, he’s also cranked out the occasional novel. It is those novels that first drew my attention to Hunter, since your humble webmaster has lived his entire live on America’s west coast. When I went to the web to find out more about this master storyteller. There wasn’t much there, and what I found was scattered hither and yon throughout a dozen different places on the web. So I put this website together. Enjoy!
- Hunter was born in 1946 (he’s in his mid-60s) and lives in Baltimore, MD. He wrote for the Baltimore Sun from 1971 – 1996, then moved to the Washington Post, from which he took advantage of an early retirement program in 2008. He is married to a woman who is also a journalist, and his children are grown and graduated from east coast colleges.
- He graduated from Northwestern University in 1968.
- Hunter spent two years in the US Army as a ceremonial soldier in the Old Guard (3rd Infantry) in Washington, D.C. 1969-1970.
- Hunter won the prestigious ASNE 1998 Distinguished Writing Award in the criticism category.
- Hunter was has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize many times, and has been a finalist a couple of times: in 1995 and in 1996. He finally won the prize in 2003.
What is the order of the Bob Lee Swagger stories? I just read XXXXX and wonder what order I should read the rest?
Call me old fashioned, but I see these best read in the order they were written.Point of Impact (1993)
Chronological order: FifthHunter had sold his first book, Master Sniper, in 1980, so he’d been an author for 13 years and five novels prior to embarking on the Bob Lee Swagger stories. Swagger is probably in his early- to mid-30’s in this book. There is brief mention of Swagger’s late father. The town sheriff, he’d been killed in a shootout, but not before first killing the bad guy, one Jimmy Pye. It begs the question: Does Hunter plot books years in advance?Dirty White Boys (1994)
Chronological order: SixthBob Lee Swagger does not appear in DWB, but if he did he would be around 45, after Point of Impact but before Black Light. Our protagonist, Bud Pewtie, is an Oklahoma highway patrolman in the early 1990’s, trying to stop bad guy Lamar Pye. Is a “Swagger” book – barely – due to cameo appearance by Earl Swagger, Bob Lee’s father. Earl is the lawman who had stopped Lamar’s father Jimmy from a crime spree years ago. Kind of like out-laws instead of in-laws.Black Light (1996)
Chronological order: ThirdIt’s after Point of Impact, and Bob Lee reads to me like he’s maybe pushing 50. But the story is really about events that occurred when Bob Lee was 10 years old. Bud Pewtie’s 20-somthing son is troubled by the events of Dirty White Boys, and convinces Bob Lee to join his search for the story of Earl Swagger. Chronologically first because much of the book is written in the present tense during Earl Swagger’s last days.Time To Hunt (1998)
Chronological order: FourthThis is the story of Bob Lee’s Vietnam Experience. Bob is in his early to mid-20’s, although it is recollected as narrative that accompanies a current adventure Swagger has in the late 1990’s… As with all the Swagger books, the definitive ending appears to leave no chance for a viable sequel. (sure!)Hot Springs (2000)
Chronological order: FirstBob Lee makes only a short cameo appearance in this one, as a newborn baby. The story is written in a linear timeline with minimal flashbacks and forths. It is about Earl Swagger’s return from World War 2, and we learn about Bob Lee’s grandfather Charles as Earl excises the demons of his youth.Pale Horse Coming (2001)
Chronological order: SecondThis is a sequel to Hot Springs, set four years later. Bob Lee is five – old enough for Hunter to develop his character already. We learn that Bob Lee prefers the darkest of Grimm’s Fairy Tales…^ TOP
Here’s an email dated 7/7/01 from site browser Michael Canup, prior to the release of Pale Horse Coming:
Hi, Love the site, lots of good information.
Only point, I disagree with the chronological order you place on the “Bob Lee Swagger” books. While “Hot Springs” does definitely come first, I believe the rest should be viewed as being in the chronological order they were published in.
While “Black Light” does refer back to events concerning Earl Swagger, the basic plot makes no sense if “Point of Impact” and “Dirty White Boys” have not been read. The same is true of “Time to Hunt”. While the first half of the book takes you back to Bob in Viet Nam, the second half of the book takes that information along with information from “Point of Impact”, “Dirty White Boys” and “Black Light”. So to me the chronological order is “Hot Springs”, “Point of Impact”, “Dirty White Boys”, “Black Light”, “Time to Hunt”.
I especially love the fact that “Point of Impact”, “Dirty White Boys” and “Black Light” make up a trilogy that is not apparent until the third book is read, the first two able to stand on their own with no apparent relationship until “Black Light” is read.
Anyway, I’d recommend to anyone interested in Stephen hunter to start at “The Master Sniper” and read all the books, including “Target”, in order as they all fit together in a remarkably cohesive history.
Ed Note: In my defense, I start the chronology above recommending that I read them in the order published, and recommend same.
As a note – the novelization of “Target”, in my opinion, was superior to the movie, especially in the way that Stephen Hunter blends in some of his own characters (the ever-present Frenchy) and makes it his own. Keep up the good work.^ TOP
Hunter’s books would make great movies. Why has it only happened once?
Hunter’s day job was movie critic, and in a sense, each of his books is written by someone who has thought a lot about what makes a movie great. You can just tell his books would make killer movies, easily.
Initially, Hunter fans were mostly opposed to the Producer’s plan to star Keanu Reeves as Bob Lee Swagger. Keanu was too young, too pretty, to Gen-X’y for many. At the last minute, Keanu signed different contracts for double or triple the millions to do Matrix sequels, and he became unavailable.
But, Hollywood reported days later, the project was not dead. Ironically, Al Gore’s college roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, was cast as Bob Lee after another rewrite was completed to match the age perspective of the star (ie put it back to the way Hunter wrote it). William Friedkin was going to direct. Friedkin and Jones had just completed “Rules of Engagement,” a strong thriller in which Jones plays a military lifer, convincingly. The novel fans generally approve of the casting, judging from my emails.
For reasons never disclosed, that project was scrapped and the project went up on somebody’s shelf.
Finally, in 2008, history was made.
Even though you are not affiliated with Stephen Hunter, do people still email you?
You bet. Join In! Here are some samples…When I typed in the name “Stephen Hunter” on my search engine, I expected to find a lot of pages. I found two. It is very disappointing. Kudos to you for the dedication to put up a website!
I read my first Stephen Hunter novel, Dirty White Boys, a couple of months ago. I told my pops (who reads many of the same books I do, and came across Stephen Hunter) that I loved the book, and he recommended I read the Bob Lee Swagger novels. I started with Time to Hunt, then progressed to Point of Impact and then Black Light last. This was a good order to read them in, I do believe. It helped to start with the story of Donny and Bob Lee, which formed the basis for his character throughout the other novels, even if it was written last.
Anyway, just thought I’d e-mail you to say great job on the webpage. I close with the lyrics Donny heard before going out to check on Featherstone in Time to Hunt. By CCR:
Long as I remember, the rain been coming down
Clouds of mystery falling, confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages, trying to track the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?
Best Wishes, man,
I don’t own a gun, don’t hunt; except beetles, do read, and loved the books “Point of Impact”, and “Black Light”. Mentioned one of the scenes from Black Light to a hunting friend, he said oh yes- Black Light!
I was in Wal-Mart today and walked past a gun display, stopped and looked, trying to see what a Model 70 Winchester (pre ’64) might look like. Started talking to David behind the counter, an older man, he immediately knew Bob the nailer! Wow! I am impressed. Great books, looking forward to reading the rest. Keep up the good works.
Little Rock, AR
Thanks. I love Hunter’s books. Hopefully Keanu Reeves will not be playing Bob. Who the heck thought that one up. I can’t think of any actor that could be worse for the part.
I’ve been trying to find out more about Stephen Hunter, including when a new novel is due out, and any related movies. Thanks for putting this website together. He’s been one of my favorites since I happened to pick up Black Light at my library. It was awesome, and I soon went back to read Point of Impact, one of the best stories I think I have ever read. I also really enjoyed Time to Hunt. Any news of when his next novel is due?
I’m a little confused about the movie, Target. Is it a story based on one of his novels, or more a bio of him?
Anyway, thanks again for the website.
Near as I can tell, the movie “Target” was just a movie. During production somebody decided the bottom line would be enhanced by hiring a novelist to write a book based on the screenplay. Hunter got the job. “Paperback Writer” as the Beatles sang. It seemed to have set him thinking about the age-old creative debate about writing to make art or writing to make money, as he didn’t release another Novel for four years, and it (Day Before Midnight) was much more ‘commercial’ than any previous work. The Swagger series immediately followed. Fortunately, it turns out he’s one of the rare authors who can achieve both artistically and financially.